The year is ending and it’s time for L.A. party people to take a deep breath, reflect — and maybe even relax? Nah ...
However you spend what's left of 2015, it's fun to take a little time to look back. For better or worse, these are the trends, the parties and the people that got us out and about in 2015 — bumping and boozing, consuming and costuming, typing and sometimes griping online, but all the while still loving Los Angeles and everything that it has to offer after dark.
It’s been happening for several years now, but in 2015, the pandemic closure of historic dives, beloved old eateries, and other well-worn hangouts made a lot of us fearful for the future of L.A. nightlife. Distinguishing between gentrification versus mere hipster-fication was difficult for many. The artisanal-addicted, Prius-driving, nerd-glasses-lovin’ beardos that took over your hood weren’t necessarily the problem, they were just a by-product, and maybe a sign. Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Hollywood, and, of course, Silver Lake and Downtown, saw environmental improvements and better business commerce — but the price was lost character and history.
Cat & Fiddle, The Casbah, Circus, Catch One and Dimples were all forced to close or change, but it was Bar 107's attempts to fight “the man” with a full-on punk rock “occupation” that made us really think about what we were losing. Ultimately we all lost that one. Guess time will tell if ridiculously large ice cubes and man buns are, indeed, the true enemy.
Oh My Goth
Perhaps the resurgence of all that is bleak and black in L.A. nightlife is a reflection of the hopelessness many have felt living here lately? Or maybe the “goth” lifestyle is a reaction to the darkness out in the world itself? Maybe we all just realized we look our best in dark hues?
Regardless, in L.A., the goth club scene had never been healthier than it was in 2015. And we’re not talking about “health goth” (although yeah, that was a thing, too). Longtime scenes at clubs such as Bar Sinister, Das Bunker, Blue Mondays/Black Fridays and LADead's Monte Cristo events thrived, but newer ragers and rituals such as 90s Goth Club at the Lash and Cloak and Dagger, Adam 12’s not-so-secret, members-only Tuesday night “dark party” became the spots the city’s glammed ghouls and voracious vamps wanted to haunt this year.
A Visual Feast
For many, the club scene was too loud, too young, too pricey and too dumb this year. An equally lively alternative for cool folk — especially the rocker crowd — was the art gallery scene. Lethal Amounts threw some of the biggest bashes of the year (for Ministry's Al Jourgensen and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner, to name a couple). Mr. Musichead moved across the street on Sunset Strip, and lost no momentum packing in memorabilia and crowds. But it was the DayGlo-swathed Taschen Gallery that made the biggest impact, opening with a huge Rolling Stones exhibit and following up with an even bigger David Bowie party and art show featuring the work of Mick Rock.
Chomp and Romp
In addition to the gallery scene, those looking for alternatives to bars and clubs sought to dine while looking fine in formal wear. Pop-up parties we loved (with food and drink front and center) included Courtney Fruitfly Nichols’ sexy feast called Disco Dining Club, the tiki-tastic tropical toaster known as the Coconut Club, and the Ceviche Project’s al fresco sit-down. Club promoter turned chef Anne Lee threw some tasty after-dark pop-ups as Castle Gourmet, too.
Downtown L.A. went way gay this year. Thanks to awesome new joints including one of the best of new bars anywhere, Precinct, it managed to surpass Silver Lake as the homosexual hub du jour. West Hollywood will always reign for queens, queers, butches, bears, boy toys, et al., but there was something really refreshing about the gay scene in DTLA this year, which included drinking holes such as Redline and Mattachine, hoppin' clubs such as the Lash (where Mustache Mondays moved after leaving La Cita) and even the dive King Eddy — or Queen Eddy as they call it. You don't need to be gay to go to or grind at any of these grottoes — just into having a gay ol' time.
“EDM” became about as meaningless as the word “hipster” this year, which meant that a plethora of parties took strides to distance themselves from the mainstream electronic scene’s gaudy glow-stick schtick. It seemed every DJ-driven event in town wanted to be known as “underground” this year, but what was and what wasn’t? A secret warehouse ain't all it takes anymore, and not announcing the event until night-of, only to reveal it's at the same club as last month, is fooling no one.
Rogue or rave isn't the only way to rage "underground" these days, and biggies such as Prototype at Lot 613, Minimal Effort at Belasco, and Night Bass at Sound proved it, blowing up and throwing down hard. Also deserving mention here, the wild HAM on Everything's events and the alt-after-hours at the Overpass, both of which may have retained the most true underground vibes of them all (if you don't know where they're held, we're not telling here).
Admit it: There were a couple days there when you actually thought “Netflix and chill” meant to stay in, watch a movie and relax. We saw that one a lot on social media, didn’t we? More than ever this year, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other apps helped us navigate our nightlife. Invite limits, algorithms, profile pic filters and “real name” headaches aside, FB continued to reign as the place we all checked in on each other, argued with each other and shared zeitgeist moments with each other.
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From Star Wars to Back to the Future inspired parties, to fanciful dress-up affairs like Edwardian Ball and Labyrinth of Jareth, to fetish freak-fests, to cosplay shindigs, to '70s, '80s and '90s-themed bars and dance parties, Los Angeles continued to get creative with its nightlife. We’d venture to say that nowhere in the world is more diverse in its decadence than our city right now. And in spite of losing some of our favorite locales this year, and wondering how Big Brother will encroach upon our ability to know what is happening out there in the future, we have faith that 2016 will not only offer more of the same, but that somebody somewhere will come up with something that can still surprise us.
Will it be a trend that quickly comes and goes (like most of these did?) or an impactful game-changer for going out in L.A.? Only next year will tell.